Can lecithin cause depression?

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In this blog we will answer the question “Can lecithin cause depression?”

We will also briefly discuss what lecithin is, what it is used for, and what are the general precautions to keep in mind when using it. 

Can lecithin cause depression?

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It is possible that Lecithin can cause depression and have an adverse impact on the mental health of consumers. 

Lecithin is a popular emulsifier in the food industry and it is also a popular supplement which is not regulated. This has caused much concern for the use of lecithin amongst mental health experts. 

According to one 2019 article, Lecithin has been connected with possible depression where overconsumption of the main ingredient in lecithin which is choline could be a causal factor of depression. 

The article reviews a number of research articles that has explored the impact of lecithin on mental health and finds that the popularity and ease of access of lecithin amongst the general public to be worrisome. 

One of the earliest research on lecithin and it;s impact on mental health could be related to a study done on the effects of consumption of choline and lecithin on neurological and cardiovascular systems. 

This 1982 report studied the possible adverse health effects and benefits caused by the consumption of amounts of choline and lecithin.

The research found that the ease of access to large amount of lecithin could lead to the development of depression in consumers because the researchers found that over consumptions of lecithin was related to the “…supersensitivity of dopamine receptors and disturbance of the cholinergic-dopaminergic-serotonergic balance.”

Researchers of both studies mentioned above added that the use of lecithin to treat various neurological conditions has led to wide public interest leading to many companies creating easily accessible lecithin supplements and products. 

However, ease of access and the lack of studies and information done on the actual impact of the drug in the overall health and mental health of the consumers can make this drug potentially harmful unless the drug is consumed under supervision of medical professionals. 

What is Lecithin?

Lecithin is a natural nutrient that occurs in various foods and it is also sold as a dietary supplement for brain, nerves, and liver health. 

Lecithin is also known as alpha-phosphatidylcholine and it is composed of a  group of chemicals that belongs to compounds called phospholipids. 

Phospholipids are fats present in the body that help maintain the integrity of cells and are vital for the healthy functioning of various organs in the body. 

Lecithin is thus necessary for the healthy functioning of the body and it is usually found in green vegetables, red meat, and eggs.

If a person is eating a healthy and balanced diet, they will have a good amount of Lecithin in their bodies for healthy functioning however, some individuals who are malnourished might required to take supplements for Lecithin that are most often made from soybeans, egg yolks, and other animal products. 

As a supplement, lecithin has been approved by the FDA to be used to nourish organs such as the brain and liver, for certain neurological disorders, and it is also thought to lower cholesterol. 

The natural food Sources of Lecithin include:

  • Organ meats like liver
  • Red meat
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat germ
  • Canola oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Green vegetables like broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
  • Legumes like black beans, kidney beans, and soybeans

While Lecithin is thought to be safe, it has to be mentioned that there is little evidence that proves that Lecithin is effective for what it has been claimed to treat. It is important that you consult with your doctor before you take any Lecithin supplements. 


Lecithin is available in many forms, including:

  • Pills
  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Softgels
  • Granules
  • Powder
  • Liquid
  • Paste

There are no dosage guidelines for lecithin. It is recommended that people don’t take more than the label recommends.

For most adults, Lecithin can be used in doses of 20-30 grams by mouth daily however, this might differ depending on metabolic rate of an individual, weight of the individual and the presence of liver or kidney diseases etc. 

It has to be mentioned that the FDA does not regulate supplements thus, it is possible that the purity of the supplements might not be guaranteed thus, if you want to get on lecithin, it is advised that you speak to a doctor first and look for supplements that has been independently tested by a third party. 

What Is Lecithin Used For?

Lecithin is often used to treat many health conditions such as high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, mastitis, and Alzheimer’s disease; however it has to be mentioned that there is not much evidence that supports the claims that lecithin is indeed effective. 

Many supports of the use of lecithin also claim that this supplements does the following:

  • Improve sleep patterns
  • Enhance athletic performance
  • Alleviate stress and anxiety
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve liver function
  • Prevent the onset of dementia (Healthline)

What are the side effects of Lecithin?

Lecithin supplements are generally safe however, like any other drug, lecithin does have some side effects and it is important that you consul;t with a doctor before taking any because supplements like lecithin are not regulated like most other drugs.

Some of the potential side effects include:

  • Increased salivation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Allergic reactions for people who are allergic to soy. 

If you notice any allergic reactions or if the side effects do not abate after five days or it is causing severe pain, seek out medical attention immediately. 

Precautions related to using Lecithin

If you are going to use lecithin, there are a few precautions that you have to consider and take:

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is important that you speak to your doctor about taking the supplement. 

While the supplement lecithin is relatively safe and found in most food, there is not enough research done related to the safety of the supplement on pregnant women and breast feeding children. 

It could potentially be safe in little amounts however, there is little research that backs it;’s safety when used in larger amounts as medicine when pregnant or breast-feeding. 

Thus, to stay on the safe side, speak to the doctor about dosage and risks. 

It is also important to know that Lecithin might cause allergic reactions in people with egg or soy allergies. Thus, it is also advised that you seek medical advice if you have allergies. 

There is currently little research done on lecithin Interactions with other drugs, thus, speak to your doctor about taking the supplement if you are on other drugs as well.  

While lecithin could potentially be safe in little amounts however, there is little research that backs it;’s safety when used in larger amounts. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.

For most adults, Lecithin can be used in doses of 20-30 grams by mouth daily however, this might differ depending on metabolic rate of an individual, weight of the individual and the presence of liver or kidney diseases etc. 

Thus, it is important that you speak to your doctor about the dosage before taking the medication.  

Conclusion

In this blog we have answered the question “Can lecithin cause depression?”

We have also briefly discussed what lecithin is, what it is used for, and what are the general precautions to keep in mind when using it. 

FAQ related to can lecithin cause depression

Does lecithin make you depressed?

It is possible that Lecithin can cause depression and have an adverse impact on the mental health of consumers. According to one 2019 article, Lecithin has been connected with possible depression where overconsumption of the main ingredient in lecithin which is choline could be a causal factor of depression. 

What are the side effects of lecithin?

Some of the potential side effects of lecithin include:

  • Increased salivation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Allergic reactions for people who are allergic to soy. 

Does lecithin increase serotonin?

No, lecithin does not increase serotonin levels in the body. Infact research found that serotonin availability decreases due to lecithin leading to lower levels of lecithin and higher risks of depression.

What happens if you take too much lecithin?

High doses of lecithin can lead to various side effects such as stomach aches, diarrhoea, or loose stools. It can also be linked to higher risks of depression and other mental distress. 

Who Cannot take lecithin?

Pregnant or break feeding mothers should take lecithin with caution. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is important that you speak to your doctor about taking the supplement. 

While the supplement lecithin is relatively safe and found in most food, there is not enough research done related to the safety of the supplement on pregnant women and breast feeding children. 

It could potentially be safe in little amounts however, there is little research that backs it;’s safety when used in larger amounts as medicine when pregnant or breast-feeding. 

Where is lecithin from?

Lecithin is also known as alpha-phosphatidylcholine and it is composed of a  group of chemicals that belongs to compounds called phospholipids and it is usually found in green vegetables, red meat, and eggs. 

References

Tsoukalas, Ioannis. (2019). Too much of a good thing? Lecithin and mental health. World Nutrition. 10. 54-62. 10.26596/wn.201910154-62. 

Wood JL, Allison RG. Effects of consumption of choline and lecithin on neurological and cardiovascular systems. Fed Proc. 1982 Dec;41(14):3015-21. PMID: 6754453.

Sherry Christiansen. What Is Lecithin? Verywellmind. Retrieved on 15th April 2022. https://www.verywellhealth.com/lecithin-4771091#toc-frequently-asked-questions-d95f47f8-befa-4dd5-ae7f-ffd3cb9eda97

Lecithin – Uses, Side Effects, And More. WebMD. Retrieved on 15th April 2022. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-966/lecithin

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